Striker Duane Darby joined the Tigers in March 1996 at the tail end of a desperate season for City that ended in relegation to the fourth tier well before the season’s end. He scored his first goal for City in the last game of the season at home to Bradford City, a notorious game when the Police force and the club owners conspired to fill the home stands with jubilant away supporters as Bradford sealed promotion, while City fans skulked in the feebly appointed away terrace. Shocking.
For the next two seasons Duane dominated City’s forward line with 20 and 15 goals respectively. He began 1996/97 in fine fettle with a hattrick on the first day of the season against Darlington. He took another 22 games to score the next three goals that doubled his tally. Then on 26 November 1996 he made history in a FA Cup replay that went to extra time and finished 8-4 to the Tigers, with Darby’s contributing six goals. So… 90 minutes to score three… 3 months to score three more… 120 minutes to double his haul to 12… Darby was a player who scored heavily when in the mood. He bagged eight more times in the remaining 29 games as City’s early season promise faded. In 1997/98 matters started badly under new boss Mark Hateley, whose Tigers side failed to score in the first four fixtures. At the end of August City took on Swansea and Darby hit a hattrick in an unlikely 7-4 victory. Four goals came in the next 25 games (though Duane missed 11 of these fixtures), then he scored braces in a 4-5 defeat at Rotherham and a 3-1 win over Peterborough. Four goals in the last 4 games took Darby’s tally to 15 for the season.
Duane joined Notts County in July 1998 on expiry of his City contract, but he suffered an achilles injury during pre-season that kept him out of the first team for nine months. In March 1999 he was recuperating and returned to the Tigers on loan to aid Warren Joyce’s Great Escape, playing in eight games, four of which he started. He was less effective following his injury and failed to score, but nevertheless contributed to a run of one defeat in 10 games that saw City ease away from the spectre of relegation to the Conference.
Born in Birmingham, Darby learned his trade playing for a youth team in Halesowen before joining Torquay United as a trainee. Duane made his first debut for The Gulls in September 1991, a month before his 18th birthday, and spent four years at Plainmoor. In 1995 he moved to Doncaster Rovers, then a year later he signed for Terry Dolan’s Tigers.
Darby spent another season at Notts County in 1999/2000 before joining Rushden & Diamonds in June 2000. His time with the Northamptonshire upstarts was the most productive of his career, he scored at a rate of a goal every two games across three seasons including 24 goals in his first season that helped The Diamonds rise from Conference to Football League. In November 2003 he signed for Shrewsbury Town, newly relegated to the Conference and hoping Duane could repeat the promotion form he showed at Rushden three years earlier. Alas injuries meant Darby was often unavailable, although he did score for the Shrews in the play-off final against Aldershot that was eventually won on penalties, returning the Shropshire side to the senior leagues. Darby left Shrewsbury in February 2006 and spent a further four years playing for various Midlands non-league clubs.
In February 2006 Darby was appointed player-coach at Nuneaton Borough, commencing a second career in the game as coach and manager. In 2007 Duane joined Bromsgrove Rovers as a player and was soon appointed manager, but he was unable to avert relegation and left a year later. After a period of coaching, Darby returned to management in January 2013 at Cradley Town, however he returned to coaching for Bromsgrove five months later. In November 2019 he again returned to management, taking the reins at Redditch United.
Date/Place of Birth: 17 October 1973, Birmingham
Hull City First Game: 30 March 1996, Shrewsbury Town A (League Division 2), 22 years, 165 days old
Hull City Final Game: 1 May 1999, Torquay United H (League Division 3), 25 years, 196 days old
Torquay United (1991-1995), Doncaster Rovers (1995-1996), Hull City (1996-1998), Notts County (1998-2000), Hull City (1999, loan), Rushden & Diamonds (2000-2003), Shrewsbury Town (2003-2006), Nuneaton Borough (2006-2007), Halesowen Town (2007), Bromsgrove Rovers (2007-2008), Stourport Swifts (2008-2009), Hednesford United (2009), Evesham United (2009), Alvechurch (2009-2010), Redditch United (2010)
Hull City Record
Career: 99 apps, 36 goalsDuane Darby
|1996/97||40 (1)||13||3 (0)||6||2 (0)||0||-||-||2 (0)||1|
|1997/98||27 (2)||13||1 (0)||0||3 (0)||1||-||-||2 (0)||1|